Expert Review: Blizzard Bonafide 97

Published on 03/08/2023 · 8 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in February 2021.
Tim Scialabba, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Tim Scialabba

Photo by Tim Scialabba

About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in February 2021.

The iconic Bonafide 97 is back with a slightly tweaked profile and construction, but it retains the perfect blend of Austrian engineering that has made it a strong, damp, and powerful all-mountain ski for advanced to expert skiers.

My take

For those who like to ski fast, charge hard in all conditions, and leave friends in the dust, even on less-than-perfect days, these bombers are ideal. Not for the faint of heart and requiring solid technique, the Blizzard Bonafides provide stability and precision when needed most.

Built with an innovative TrueBlend wood core (an exclusive blend of thin stringers of Beech and Poplar wood assembled to provide the ideal amount of flex), wrapped in 2.5 sheets of titanal and carbon tips and tails, the Bonafides take a few steps forward in the “One Ski Quiver” category. The combination of high-density wood stringers in the new wood core provides just the right flex for advanced-to-expert skiers to find lots of extra confidence on steep, wide-open terrain (which is where this strong ski really wants to open up).

Photo by Tim Scialabba

About the gear

  • Model: 2021-2022 Blizzard Bonafide 97
  • Size: 183 cm

About me

  • Height: 5’ 11”
  • Weight: 230 lbs
  • Experience: 32 years of skiing

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: February 2021
  • Days tested: 12
  • Mount position: Standard
  • Boots: Lange RX 130
  • Boot Size: 28.5
  • Bindings: 2021 Marker Griffon
  • Where I’ve used it: Gore Mountain, New York
  • Terrain: Hard pack, groomers, steeps, bumps, trees, packed powder, spring slush, powder
Available Lengths (cm)165, 171, 177, 183, 189
Dimensions (mm)136.5 - 97 - 118.5 (tip-waist-tail)
Weight (g/ski)2200 at 177cm length
Sidecut Radius (m)17 at 177cm length
CorePoplar/Beech TrueBlend + Titanal laminate (2.5 layers) + carbon tips + fiberglass laminate
SidewallSandwich Compound Sidewall (Ti)

How it performs

Carving
5/5
Durability
5/5
High Speed Stability
5/5
Versatility
5/5
Flotation
4/5
Turn Ease
4/5

What I was looking for

My quiver was getting old and banged up. I love my Line Sir Francis Bacons and Blizzard Brahmas, but I wanted skis that are more lively and have better edge hold. I needed an all-mountain ripper that excels in all conditions.

Why I chose this gear

I like to ski fast and hard, given my racing roots and preference for the GS turn, so I wanted a pair of skis that were damp, powerful, and full of energy. I also considered the Volkl Mantra M5, K2 Mindbender 99ti, Salomon Stance 96, and Head Kore 93. But after trying a few pairs of skis (all really good in their own right), the Blizzard Bonafide 97s felt the most glued to the snow on hardpack, crud, chop, and slush. They also felt light and soft enough in the tips and tails to rip tight turns in the trees and bumps. This all-mountain versatility and affinity for speed really checked all the boxes.

I’ve been a fan of Blizzard skis over the years and really enjoy my Brahmas. I know they’re well-built, durable, and made by a top Austrian ski company that takes pride in its quality.

What I love about it

  • Speed: These skis crave high speeds. They perform best when I point them downhill and hit the gas pedal. The construction and shape are built for stability and larger radius turns. The TrueBlend Flipcore Technology is made of vertical laminates of different woods (lightweight beech and strong poplar) strung together and wrapped in two sheets of titanal metal for the whole length of the ski. This construction provides a very strong and progressive flex that dampens vibrations and increases power transmission for a solid feel.
  • Edge-Grip: Bonafides have long been known for their strength and solid edge hold, and these are no exception. The 2021-2022 version updated the shape and camber to increase effective edge. Blizzard achieved this by reducing early rise rocker and adding more traditional camber. For me, the camber was one of the most positive features of this ski. On steep hard pack terrain, I was able to tip the skis up on high edge angles and hold pressure confidently all the way through the turn.
  • Turns: Despite the construction and heft of the Bonafide, these skis want to turn. The 18.5-meter radius offers impressive maneuverability in the category for a 183 cm length ski. It does take some speed and pressure delivered to the forebodies to get them going, but once I do, I’m on rails. The reduced rocker profile and added camber in the new Bonafide 97 provided stiffness in the middle of the ski, while a softer tip and tail allow for increased handling while adding extra pop and rebound on the bottom of the radius. In other words, tip them over, flex center to forward, and expect big things!
  • Groomers: Bonafides are known for carving prowess and laying trenches on piste. The Bonafide puts on a masterful combination of technical performance on corduroy.
  • Powder: I did not get to test these in deep untouched pow, but I did manage to ski in some three to five inches of off-piste chop and crud. The Bonafides flattened crud.
  • Trees: An adjustment in skiing technique was needed. I had to put them together and stand a little taller than the usual stance to get them to swivel in the trees. Once this more traditional style was adopted, the Bonafides were a blast. The carbon tips and tails really make the difference in the trees and bumps because they flex a bit more than the metal laminate portions of the skis while maintaining the vibration damping. The extra flex pattern with less weight allows me to move quickly in the variable terrain.
  • Durability: Blizzard makes very durable, long-lasting skis. Top sheets take normal wear and tear, with small cuts as edges will collide in active skiing. There are no chips or chunks, as the top sheet is soft but malleable. Edges and bases are thick and hearty. I saw no noticeable damage after 12 days of conscientious skiing.
  • Weight: These are heavy but glued to the snow! It takes a skier with some strength and power to wield these skis. However, the TrueBlend Flipcore is tailored to each length of ski (i.e. 177 is different then 183), making the shorter skis softer and more accessible to shorter, smaller skiers. This makes a ton of sense given the nature of this beast.
  • Stability: These are the dampest skis I tried. Bonafides excel at absorbing chatter and vibrations.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Forgiveness: Despite the updates to make the ski more versatile at low speeds, the Bonafide still requires a decent pilot to be enjoyed. They are best skied with an athletic forward stance, driving the shovels into the turns to take advantage of the versatile sidecut and easy power release.
  • Playfulness: The Bonafide is not a lively ski. It will pop back in big turns and rebound a lot of energy, but surfy and jibby are not in its vocabulary.
  • Backcountry: These are not ideal for uphill touring unless I’m looking for an additional challenge, given the weight of these bad boys. However, these are great for hard-charging wide-open turns in backcountry bowls. Bonafide skis have always excelled at this, and this year’s skis are no exception. As speed is built up, they become more manageable in flex, vibration damping, and edge hold, meaning the more speed I build, the more control I have over what the skis really want to do.
  • Moguls: Similar to trees, I had to get used to the swivel feel of these skis. It takes a light touch, but the bumps are well-absorbed and skis flex nicely in tight terrain.
  • Switch Riding: These are directional skis. I do not recommend skiing switch on these.

Favorite moment with this gear

These skis have given me renewed confidence in my technique and ability. With the chatter reduction and vibration damping, my legs stay fresh and I am often the last one left on the hill in my group.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Blizzard Bonafide 97s provide an excellent top-end ski at a fair price. It performs as well as, if not better than, its biggest competitors in the Volkl Mantra M5, Salomon Stance 96, Head Kore 99, and K2 Mindbender 99ti (all around the same list price). The Bonafides are a few hundred dollars less than its competitor, the Kastle FX 96HP.

Final verdict

It takes an aggressive skier who is confident on all-terrain to get the most out of the Bonafides. If that’s you, then you will love these skis as a daily driver. They are demanding, fast, and stable. If that sounds like your style, you will be treated to one of the best skis on the mountain today. They make me a stronger skier.

Best-in-class stability at high speeds, particularly off groomers in mixed snow conditions
Confidence-inspiring support in turns, no matter the snow conditions
Requires a strong and competent pilot to handle, but riders are rewarded with a ski that can be pushed as hard you they want and it will come back asking for more

If you want to see these skis in action, check out the video below by Curated Experts for more information.

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